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A Swiftian pardoy

A Swiftian pardoy

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I am writing in response to Alex Shantz’s Aug. 31 response ("Ignoring my point completely") to Richard Cannon’s response  ("Neoliberal anthropocentric saeculum?") to Alex Shantz’s initial letter of August 20 ("The persistence of neo-liberalism"). Alex describes Richard’s letter as “catty”, and charges him with failing to respond to the political points Alex made.

Actually, Richard’s letter was a satirical takedown of the turgid prose, and inflated “superior vocabulary” that Alex used. It was not “post-modern drivel.” It was a Swiftian parody. I thought it was hilarious.

And you’ve got to admit, Richard took on an almost impossible job. How do you satirize an essay that starts “After the Berlin Wall falls, global bi-polarity, dialectically comprised of Usonian and Soviet Usonian forces, subsume into an anthropocentric saeculum of global neo-liberal hegemony and democratic dictatorship?”

Alex, the Buddha said that our opponents can be our best teachers. Richard has offered you a most generous teaching, titled the “Sutra of "Neoliberal Anthropocentric Saeculum."

I will be blunt. When attempting to persuade an audience, use their language. Cut the high-falutin vocabulary. Eschew obfuscation; avoid the abstruse. Take your prose to a group of average middle-schoolers and see what they make of it. A letter to the editor to the Register does not address the same audience as a political harangue to true believers who are tuned in to arcane party lingo. Simplicity and directness of language are not the same as “dumbing down.”

And for heaven’s sake, keep it short. If your initial vehement out pouring comprises 1,000 words, vow to cut it down to 500. Be as ruthless with yourself as you would be with a Trump supporter, or worse yet, a neo-liberal. Your instinctual writing style is too often long-winded, boring, and difficult to penetrate.

Your most recent letter was much improved. The average person can actually figure out what you are going on about without resorting to a dictionary and diagramming the sentences. You should thank Richard. You have already learned from him.

If you want to write effective arguments, consider enrolling in an essay-writing class with a tough-minded teacher. Or, you can stay where you are, demonstrating your superior vocabulary and complex reasoning to the amazement of the world, and not rallying any new adherents to your causes.

At least, the Shantz/Cannon exchange has provided some humorous relief in these trying times. It was as if a giant hand...

Nancy Tamarisk


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